Supplement to Noachide Worship – by Jim

(in response to http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/noachide-worship-by-jim/#comment-14819)

Thomas,

 

Thank you for you comment.

 

Allow me to clarify things with two examples of errors that have cropped up because of the religious emotion:

 

1. A few years ago, I was at a conference for Noahides. On Friday evening, the leaders of the meeting ushered in Shabbat by lighting seven candles, each of a different color of the rainbow. As they lit each candle, they recited one of the seven Noahide laws.

 

I hope you see the problem.

 

The people who did this meant well. They wanted a way to grow close to Hashem. And they felt that this would be a great way to do it. They were not keeping Shabbat according to the manner of the Jewish people, because that was prohibited. So they invented their own custom.

 

In so doing, they were still violating halacha. Noahides are not permitted to create their own observances. Here they wanted something to grow closer to God. They do not find it fulfilling to keep His Laws. It did not feel like service to them. So, to find some means to feel closer to God, they violated His Law. This does not bring them closer. It moves them away from Hashem. But it satisfied their emotions.

 

This was all about them. If it was service to Hashem they were interested in, they would have kept His commands to them. Since that did not appeal to their emotions, they violated Torah. Their emotions were satisfied. But if it had been about God, rather than themselves, they would not have violated His decree.

 

The sad thing about this story is that rabbis were present at the ceremony. They allowed this violation, because they wanted the Noahides to feel connected to God. They did not want the Noahides to feel like second-class citizens. Instead, they should have been teaching that there is nothing second-class about obeying Hashem. The rabbis left the Noahides with the idea that only the Jew is close to God, because only the Jew has Shabbat. This error is probably what leads to the next.

 

2. There are two rabbis now teaching that Noahides are not prohibited from keeping Shabbat in the manner that a Jew must keep it. This is a violation of halacha. And the rabbis do not argue from the mishnah to prove Noahides may keep Shabbat. They rely on aggadata, from which halacha is not derived.

 

One must ask himself why they are teaching this. It is because the religious emotion has come over some in the Noahide community. They want religious observances of their own, to which they can adhere to make them feel close to God. However, as in the first example, this will not make them close to God. One is not brought closer to God through the violation of His Law. If this were about God, again, they would be content to keep the laws He gave them. Moreover, they could take on other mitzvot, those that are not prohibited. But the one that they want to do is the one they are disallowed to do.

 

What is truly sad about this, is that one of the rabbi, Rabbi K____ is one of which the Noahide should be wary. He has been fleecing the poor Noahide sheep for some time. He offers “name readings” where one can learn his “mazal” based on the Gematria of their name. If one pays R’ K____ $75 ($100 for an audio recording), he can learn that his name means that he has great affinity to justice or righteousness, mercy or beauty, that he is a bulwark against Amalek or whatever other nonsense R’ K___ dreams up. Because he claims that this is Kabbalah, they come to him and trust that this is much different than astrology. They do not imagine that they are getting what equates to a “psychic reading” from a new Sylvia Browne. And how wonderful it is to be told that one represents chesed! They have no means of testing his reading, but they don’t mind. They trust him.

 

It is obvious why they trust him. He says the kinds of things that appeal to the emotion. They want to be told that their name indicates something remarkable about themselves. He grants them their wish. They want to be told that they can keep Shabbat, same as a Jew. He accommodates. And because he is a rabbi, they trust him. They trust to his authority.

 

We Noahides are in a precarious position. We do not know very much. We must have the humility to know that we are not to study Kabbalah. Some rabbis will wish to accommodate us. We must thank them and move on. We do not know enough to even know what we don’t know. Kabbalah, if there is a viable tradition still alive today, is meant for Torah scholars. A Noahide, who is not even to study those parts inapplicable to himself, cannot be qualified such study.

 

We must also distinguish between what pleases us and what pleases God. If in pursuit of a relationship with Hashem, we follow after our fantasies, then it was not Him we were attempting to please. We must start again. We must consider carefully His commands and the philosophy behind them. We must not press on to a deeper area of study until we have mastered this one. This does not appeal to the fantasy or the ego. But no one will go astray following the light of God’s Torah.

 

Jim

Posted in The Righteous Gentile | 14 Comments

Shattering Myths

Shattering Myths

The foundational texts of Christianity take the time to tell their readers much about Jews and Judaism. The writings of the Church Fathers and the subsequent luminaries of the various Churches maintained this pattern of instructing their respective audiences on the subject of Judaism.

This Christian habit of discussing Judaism is not a positive one. The pages of history are stained with the ramifications of this ugly tradition. And the effects of this pattern are still very evident in the conversation between the Christian and the Jew. The Christian enters into a conversation with a Jew assuming a load of misconceptions that were taught as “gospel” truth. The Jew may talk but the Christian will not hear because he already “knows” what the Jew will say.

The purpose of this humble article is to dispel some of the more prominent myths that Christians believe about Jews and Judaism. It is my hope and prayer that these simple words will help people reconsider. If one person comes to the realization that it is irresponsible to characterize a community with the judgment of their theological opponents then my words were not written in vain.

Myth # 1

The Jewish people reject Jesus because they have a materialistic expectation of the Messiah. The Jewish people expect a conquering king who will give them dominion of the world and the deeply spiritual message of Jesus does not resonate with them.

Fact

The Jewish people reject Jesus’ Messianic claim because they have read the words of the prophets concerning the Messiah. The prophets presented a portrait of the Messiah both in letter and in spirit. Jesus did not conform to the letter of the prophet’s vision; the practical details of the Messianic prediction. But more importantly, Jesus is the very antithesis of the spiritual underpinnings of the Messianic hope.

The prophets of Scripture looked forward to a day when every man, woman and child join together in accepting God as Master over all. They foretold a time where people recognize that their very existence is an undeserved gift from the Creator. The Messiah that the Jewish prophets spoke of will accentuate and emphasize the truth that every iota of existence is intrinsically indebted to God.

The message of the “Messiah” of Christianity stands in direct conflict to the message of the Jewish prophets. His whole claim is built on the obfuscation of the distinction between Creator and created. The deification of a man is a denial of the inherent debt that all existence owes to God and it is certainly not an acknowledgement of that truth.

Myth # 2

The Jewish Scriptures clearly and unequivocally speak of the advent of Jesus. But the Jewish people, under the manipulative influence of their corrupt leaders, refuse to acknowledge this obvious truth.

Fact

The Jewish Scriptures say nothing positive about Jesus. The only way that the gospel writers were able to find “proof” for the advent of Jesus in the words of the prophets is by mistranslating, mauling and manipulating the text of the Jewish Scriptures. Not only do the gospel writers disregard the plain meaning of the Biblical text, but they also violate the spirit of the prophetic word. A passage like Isaiah 53 which is a message of comfort for the Jewish people that are loyal to God is turned by the Church into a word of condemnation and denunciation against these same people.

The Jewish rejection of the claims of the Church is not based on a disregard for Scripture. The Jewish rejection of the Christian claims is rooted in the spirit and in the letter of the Scriptural message.

Myth # 3

The ancient Jewish teachers spoke of a suffering Messiah but modern Jews suppress this teaching in order to discredit Jesus.

Fact

The teaching of a suffering Messiah is as popular amongst the Jewish people as it ever was. This teaching has never been suppressed in any way. This teaching was never presented as the straightforward contextual message of Scripture but as an allegorical and symbolic message. The modern Jewish teachers who focus on the symbolic messages of Scripture still speak of a suffering Messiah today.

The Jewish concept of a suffering Messiah has nothing to do with the Christian teaching about Jesus. One of the deepest differences between these two messages relates to the issue of faith. According to Christianity the suffering of Messiah only benefits those who believe in him and in the atoning power of his suffering. There is no parallel to this belief in all of the vast literature of Jewish thought. The Driver and Neubauer compendium on Isaiah 53 presents a quote from Rabbi Eliyahu di Vidas which would seem to indicate that this rabbi did believe in the concept of faith in the atoning power of Messiah’s suffering. But this quotation is simply a gross mistranslation. Rabbi di Vidas actually says the very opposite of what these professors would have their audience believe.

Myth # 4

The Jewish Scriptures and the ancient Jewish teachers spoke of corporeal manifestations of the Divine but Maimonides suppressed these teachings in order to discredit Jesus. The conflict between Maimonides and the ancient teachers is still reflected in the friction that exists between those Jews who emphasize the Kabbalistic teachings and those who favor the approach of Maimonides. The Jewish rejection of the Christian theology of the incarnation is only one side of the story. The Kabbalistic school of Judaism has no problem with that teaching.

Fact

All of Judaism rejects idolatry. All of Judaism, starting from the Scriptures, defines idolatry as worship of an entity other than the God who revealed Himself to our ancestors at Sinai as our ancestors preserved that revelation. The entire discussion between the Kabbalists and the rationalists is unrelated to worship. No school of thought within Judaism ever directed worship toward a finite existence no matter what the philosophical explanation. Every school of thought within Judaism identified this worship as the very antithesis of everything that Judaism stands for.

Christians seem to have a difficulty distinguishing between the act of worship and abstract discussions about God’s methods of interacting with the world. They see the distinction between worship and understanding God’s interaction with finite existence as an artificial distinction invented by Jews in a desperate effort to discredit Jesus. But this distinction is obvious in the Scriptures. The Scriptures clearly describe worship as an act of spiritual adultery and not as a misunderstanding of some theological abstract. The Christian devotion to Jesus is idolatry according to the only definition of idolatry that is recognized in Judaism.

Myth # 5

Judaism is a religion based on the arrogant notion that humanity can somehow earn God’s favor.

Fact

Judaism’s foundational premise is that everything belongs to God. No one can give to God that which does not already completely belong to God. As the true Messiah of Israel put this into words when he addressed God: “For everything is from You and it is from Your hand that we give to You” (1Chronicels 29:14). Judaism affirms that God’s favor can never be “earned”; not through works and not through faith. But God’s grace allows our activities and our heart to play a positive part His plan for the world.

It is Christianity that denies the absolute sovereignty of God with the belief that God’s favor can somehow be earned by a “perfect” performance of His commandments.

Myth # 6

The Talmud teaches Jewish people to hate Jesus.

Fact

The Talmud contains more than 2700 pages. In the entirety of the Talmud there are 3 paragraphs that some scholars understand as negative references to Jesus. (Contrast this with the amount of paragraphs that the Christian Scriptures fill with negative misinformation about the Pharisees in particular and about the Jewish people in general.) Jesus and Christianity are non-issues for most Jews. In the Yeshiva schools, where Talmud is taught according to the tradition, Jesus and Christianity are not considered subjects of discussion.

An Appeal to Reason

One of the great Jewish teachers was a man named Hillel. This stories that are recorded about Hillel portray a man of endless patience and deep humility. Hillel taught that the core of Judaism is the maxim: “that which you hate done unto yourself do not do unto others.”

If you are a Christian I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of the Jew. Imagine if someone were to arise and claim that she is an incarnation of Jesus. This new prophet claims that the only valid path to Jesus is through faith in her and that your faith in Jesus is meaningless without faith in her. This prophet claims that the certain passages in the Christian Scriptures speak of her advent but when you read those passages in context you see that she has misappropriated the words of the apostles. This woman expects total and unequivocal faith in her message and she responds with impatience and anger when her words are not received as she would like.

You then meet up with some devoted followers of this prophet and you disregard their efforts to persuade you to join their faith. These followers then point to your rejection of their hero as proof that you are blinded, spiritually hard of heart and a child of the devil.

If all of this were to happen to you, would you feel that you were treated fairly?

If this is not how you would like to be treated then please do not treat others this way.

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Holocaust: – An Open Letter to “Concerned Reader”

Holocaust: – An Open Letter to “Concerned Reader”

Dear Concerned Reader

I wrote that without Christianity the holocaust would have never happened. You called my statement “inflammatory” and “speculative.” You justify your position with the claim that Hitler and the Nazis were not religious people.

I will ask you some questions.

Are you aware that the crime of the holocaust was committed by many people from many nations? Germans, Austrians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Romanians, Poles, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Norwegians, Belgians, and Slovakians all provided manpower for this crime to be committed. Some people from these nations actively killed Jews while many more participated by providing technical assistance. Americans, British, and Swiss also participated by sending Jewish refugees back to Germany.

Why did these people from such a diversity of backgrounds all hate the Jews? What do Hitler’s personal religious beliefs have to do with the Ukrainian executioners, with the French policemen who rounded up Jews for the Germans or with the Austrian clergymen who gladly turned in their records so that the Nazis can identify their victims?

Are you perhaps not aware that for centuries upon dark centuries the various denominations of Christianity have been teaching that Jews are children of the devil, that they rob their host countries of their wealth, that they are deceitful, that they are morally corrupt and that they murder Christian children? Do you not realize that the official mouthpieces of the various denominations of Christianity consistently defamed the Jews through every means of communication available to them? Did you read any Catholic or Protestant periodicals from pre-war Europe? Are you aware that the various denominations of Christianity taught people to associate hatred of Jews with religious virtue? Are you aware that this slander was not a peripheral teaching of the various Churches but that the subject of the depravity of the Jew was a popular subject of discussion for these men of the cloth?

You have an intense and sustained international propaganda campaign against the Jewish people. This propaganda campaign is consistently maintained for almost 2000 years in many countries. Do you think so little of man that you believe that without this massive propaganda campaign that disdain for the Jew would have run so deep?

If you dismiss my connection between the deep hatred that the Church cultivated against the Jew and the crime committed by the members of the Church against the Jew as mere speculation then please tell me what would be acceptable to you as “cause and effect” in the study of history?

I have some more questions for you. You dismiss Hitler and Nazism as being irreligious. But Hitler and many Nazis saw themselves as Christians. Many of them did not respect established Churches, which they saw as corrupt, but most of them saw themselves as followers of Jesus. They believed that their hatred of Jews was an authentic expression of their faith in Jesus. Even those who were not religious at all understood that their hatred for Jews was an honorable Christian virtue. On what basis do you ignore their claims? You disassociate the hatred of these men from Christianity and you attribute it to the general depravity of man. What is the basis for your position?

You then compound the difficulty by taking the opposite position when it comes to charity and love. You readily believe people who tell you that their charity and love are expressions of their faith in Jesus. Why do you so quickly accept their claims? Why do you not attribute their goodness to the general conscience of man? Why the double standard?

If you believe that my logic is faulty or that my facts are wrong then please correct me. Otherwise, retract your position.

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Test of Love

Test of Love

“Do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. It is the Lord your God you should follow, and it is He that you should fear, it is His commandments that you should guard, and it is to His voice that you should listen and it is Him that you should serve and it is to Him that you should cleave” (Deuteronomy 13:4,5).

The Scriptures speak of the false prophet who performs miracles. We are commanded to disobey the false prophet. We are told to ignore the miracles produced by the false prophet. Those miracles are just a test; a test to see if we truly love God with all our hearts.

Why is this situation considered a test of love? Many false prophets lead people astray with confusion. They claimed that the worship that they are advocating is somehow worship of the One God of Israel (Exodus 32:4; 1Kings 12:28). It seems that the quality that would give us the strength to see through the claims of the false prophet would be clarity of mind. Clear knowledge that is solidly rooted in the theology of the Torah should help us overcome the persuasions of the dreamer of dreams. Why is the test of the false prophet considered a test of love?

For someone who loves, the answer to this question is obvious. If someone is presently experiencing God’s embrace in every breath and in every heartbeat they are not missing anything. If someone finds everything in God then the false prophet has nothing to offer. And everything is in God. God is the One we follow and there is nothing lacking in the journey that follows God. God is the One we fear and that awe and reverence is all-encompassing. His commandments are complete and perfect and His voice is everything we need to hear. We find all of life and love in His service and there can be nothing lacking in His embrace.

The false prophet and his emissaries have no one to talk to with the lover of God. It is for this reason that most Jews don’t open the door when Christian missionaries come knocking,

Posted in Faith Structure | 32 Comments

Messiah – Letter and Spirit

Messiah – Letter and Spirit

The prophets of the Jewish Scriptures pointed mankind to a glorious future. They spoke about a future of peace and harmony, blessing and happiness together with a universal submission to God. And the prophets spoke about a Davidic king who will rule that utopian world.

The Christian religion is built on the belief that this king described by the Jewish prophets is actually one Jesus of Nazareth. The various Christian denominations have developed sophisticated theological lines of reasoning to justify their belief.

Jews who maintain loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob categorically reject the Christian claim.

There are two sides to this Jewish rejection of the Christian position. On the one hand, the Christian claim for Jesus has no basis in the letter of the Jewish Scriptures. Jesus did not fulfill one Messianic prophecy. The letter of the Bible does not allow the Jewish people to accept the claims of the Church (see http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/of-whom-speaketh-the-prophet/ ).

But this is only one side of Israel’s rejection of the Church’s claims for Jesus. Far more significant is the fact that the Messianic claims of the Church represent the very antithesis of the spirit of the prophetic hope for Messiah. This is not merely a matter of failing to conform to one specific prediction or another. The Christian position stands in direct opposition to the heart and soul of the prophetic concept of Messiah. The entire thrust of the Messiah of Scripture refutes the claims of the Church.

What is the spirit of the Messianic hope of the prophets? What is the spiritual purpose of the Messiah and what is the direction of his government?

The prophets made it abundantly clear that the end-purpose of history is that all mankind recognize and accept the absolute sovereignty of God. This recognition is the pinnacle of human achievement. The greatest success that an individual can achieve is complete submission to the authority of God and this is also the greatest success that human society as a whole can hope to achieve. And the prophets taught that humanity will ultimately attain this goal. There will yet come a day when every man woman and child that lives on this earth will stand together in joyous submission before the One God who Created us all.

The purpose of the Messiah is to lead humanity in this submission to God. In order to lead people in submission the Messiah will exemplify humility before God. As his ancestor David before him, the Messiah will express his own helplessness and poverty before God. The Davidic King will inspire all of mankind to join him in recognizing that every facet of existence a loving gift from God. The absolute submission towards God that abides in the heart of the Messiah will move all of mankind to bend their own hearts in acceptance of God’s sovereignty.

A man who emphasizes not his own poverty before God but rather his alleged superiority over other people is not a leader of submission. A man who draws attention to the supposed divide that separates him from other people is not going to teach mankind that everyone is equally indebted to God. A man who justifies devotion to himself on the basis of qualities that he allegedly possesses is not going to inspire people to recognize that finite existence possesses nothing before God. A man whose heart is facing humanity in demand of their worship cannot exemplify humility before the One who created the hearts of all men. Such a man is not a leader of submission to God; he is a leader of rebellion against God.

The real Messiah will not seek people’s worship and devotion; he will teach people that their hearts already belong to God. The real Messiah will point to the all-encompassing power of God; he will not preach about the supposed inability of God to forgive sin. The real Messiah will speak the praises of God with joy and enthusiasm; he will not speak about his own praises. The real Messiah will draw attention to his own utter helplessness before God; he will not obfuscate that truth with veiled claims to divinity. The real Messiah will be pained that people do not recognize that their very existence belongs to God, he will not rage when people do not acknowledge their “need” for his own services.

The Christian claim for the alleged Messiah-ship of Jesus is the direct opposite of everything the prophets taught us to hope for. This is not merely a matter of failing to conform to the letter of the Law. The Christian claim for Jesus stands in direct conflict with the spirit, the heart and the soul of the Messianic message of the Jewish Bible.

Posted in Messiah | 24 Comments

Isaiah 2:22

Originally posted on 1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources:

Isaiah 2:22

Many Christians have a difficult time understanding why it is that Jews view their faith in Jesus as idolatrous. Christians assert that Jesus is “one and the same” as the God of Israel. How could veneration of Jesus be considered idolatry?

It may come as a surprise to some Christians if they were to realize that many Jews have a difficult time understanding Christians. After everything is said and done, Christianity is pointing to a man, and calling him “god”. What else is there to discuss?

This article is written in an effort to help Christians see things from a Jewish perspective.

Imagine the following scenario.

 The Messianic era is here. God is revealed to all mankind. Every human being clearly sees that the One Creator of heaven and earth is the only true power. Everyone understands that every facet of existence is just an expression of His…

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Repentance

Originally posted on 1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources:

Repentance

“Open for Me, My sister My beloved…” (Song of Songs 5:2)

“Said the Holy One, Blessed be He to Israel; My children, open for Me an opening of repentance like the eye of a needle, and I will open for you enormous doorways…” (Midrash)

“The eye of a needle is indeed small – but it penetrates through and through” (Kotzker Rebbe)

The Crown Prince was misbehaving. Actually, misbehaving is too mild a word. He was hanging out with the worst characters, he was spending time in the worst places and he was doing things that a Crown Prince shouldn’t even be thinking about. In short, things were terrible. His father, the King, had no choice but to banish his son from the palace.

The exiled prince continued in his rebellious ways. He wandered from one tavern to the next, he roamed from one province to the next until he found…

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